As readers of this blog will know, I have embarked on a new adventure, escaping the corporate world of banking to carve a new career as an author-entrepreneur. It has been a dream of mine to write and publish a book.
But more than that, I want to build a new career as an author-entrepreneur.
I want to combine my love of books with my business background and make a very good living.
And this is totally possible in today’s world. Just look at Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Barbara Freethy and Rachel Abbot who have collectively sold millions of books via self-publishing and make 6-figure incomes.
It is possible to make a very good income from writing when you think like an entrepreneur. As a writer, you are the Creative Director of your publishing business.
But to get to these levels of success I know that I need to put in my time and effort. And this starts with producing the words.
And often this is the first hurdle authors, myself included, need to surpass. You cannot ‘just write’ (which by the way is the worst advice you can give to writers).
Instead, you need to cultivate the discipline to produce the words and the commitment to push through till the end.
Writing a book is not an easy task and rightly so.
Yet from the outside is seems to look easy. Before writing, I had the image of sitting in a beautiful little cottage by the sea, on an old school typewriter, with stories seamlessly flowing out of me.
How wrong I was.
It looked so effortless because I didn’t see the thousands of words, re-writes, fear and self-doubt all writers go through. And it’s easy to think successful writers don’t experience this.
This is why to be an author-entrepreneur you need to shift your mindset and understand that writing is like any job. If you want to be good at it and enjoy a certain level of success, then you need to act like a professional and treat writing with the respect it deserves.
This means doing the work, and turning up every day, whether you feel like it or not. It means pushing through your comfort zone, being disciplined, engaging with other professionals and committing to a path of life-long learning.
This is what led me to start a daily writing habit back in April. I know that if I want to be a successful author-entrepreneur, I need to turn up, commit and produce the words. No excuses.
To help me write every day I track my word count and post a monthly update. This process of reflection allows me to evaluate my progress, as well as highlighting any concerns I need to be looking at.
So let’s take a look at how many words I produced this month (August 2016) compared to last month (July 2016): 22,514
- July 2016 word-count total: 22,514
- August 2016 word-count total: 15,460
Summary: I wrote 7,054 FEWER words compared to the previous month.
- I wrote fewer words and on fewer days compared to July.
- I spent more time editing my book than writing new words.
#1. My intentions are to write every day but I don’t always achieve that goal. Upon reflection this is because:
- If I miss my scheduled writing time (in the morning) then I will likely not write for the entire day. The rest of the day seems to run away and my energy levels are lower in the evening. Therefore I must protect my morning session writing time and commit to it.
- This lead me to question, why do I miss my morning writing slot? Because I woke up late, due to staying up working late. Therefore I need to get to bed on time, ensure I get enough sleep so that I can wake up refreshed and energised for the day ahead. I am a morning person and need to write in the morning.
- I only record words I can potentially use for publishing and which contributes to the book. Therefore although I write every day in my journal, I do not include those words in my daily word count. And when I journal I typically write 500-700 words.
#2. My word-count fell from July. Is this necessarily a bad thing?
No, because I spent more time editing the book. And editing is a vital part towards publishing my book. Therefore I must:
- Recognise the writing process consists of many stages
- Respect every stage in the writing process and give time to edit and not feel guilty about not writing for that day
- Any time spent on activities that contribute to getting my book out into the world can still be captured as ‘writing’ hence why I will be tracking time spent on all writing activities from next month.
#3. If I miss one day of writing it makes me feel guilty!
If I miss one day of writing, this can make it harder for me to write the following day. I feel like the creative flow has stopped. This clearly shows I still need to cultivate the habit of writing.
Therefore, I need to ensure I write every day in some shape or form. This can be via journaling, brainstorming ideas or drawing mind-maps; anything related to writing so that the writing muscle is getting it’s daily work-out.
This also ensures I don’t feel guilty for not writing in some shape or form!
#4. Should I be writing daily?
I also questioned whether I need to be writing daily, when some writers like Jonna Penn, write on a project basis i.e. they will only write when they are creating a book. I think this project methodology makes a lot of sense. You can spend dedicated time writing, and then when the words are done, you can spend all your time on editing.
In this way, you remain single focused. However, I think this approach is best for seasoned writers who have cultivated the discipline and ability to create words on demand. And Joanna Penn has been writing for more than eight years with 20 books under her name.
I know that I still need to work on the habit of writing. And I can only tap into it on-demand once I know how to switch on the flow of words. And for me, that will come from maintaining a disciplined daily writing practice.
And the more I write, the better I become and the more ideas I can generate. Even if I only improve by 1% per month, that is still a success for me. I am in this for the long run. And that means putting in my time now and acting with a professional approach from the very outset.
#5. Track how I spend my time
I’ve also added in a new column and am tracking the amount of time I spend on writing and related activities under ‘Time Spent’. This will help me see a more accurate picture of how I am investing in my writing practise. Sometimes I don’t know where the time escapes to! So by capturing time spent, I can see how I can become a productive writer. Thanks to Bryan Collins for the tip to capture time spent on writing activities.
Tracking your progress is the only way you can measure your results. And it is astonishing to see that since tracking word count, I have produced over 100,000 words since April!
That is the equivalent of 3 novellas or one full-length novel! Considering I didn’t write every day, I still managed to produce an impressive amount of words (a daily average of 650 words).
How many of those words were of publishable quality? Right now, who cares. All that matters is that with every word, I know I’m becoming a better and stronger writer. Quality will follow quantity.
So get writing your book now! If I can do it, so can you.
Do you maintain a daily writing practice? Please share in the comments below.